Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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MIDDLESEX CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS (January 2013)

CHRIS SMITH was a comfortable winner of the Men's race over a muddy course at the 'Scrubs' on the 5th of January.
   Thames Valley Harrier Smith, initially a Scotsman from Aberdeen, had not won the event before and was fourth last year. The second man home Robert Thompson was ninth in 2011..
    In the early stages there was a group of Robert Wilson, Smith, Thompson, Tom Aldred and Henry Dodwell together but as the runners went down the far side of the course, along a muddy pathway the pace of the front group eased and that was when Smith decided to stretch out the opposition with only Thompson going with him.. On the last large lap Smith started to draw clear of Thompson and held his advantage well to the finish.
He explained " I was doing at least 60 miles a week last season but doing up to 40 this season" He thought.
he was a little bit wide of the mark because of that against tougher opposition. He was happy with his victory as was Thompson coming second. Thompson who is 21 and led the Hillingdon team to team victory said " The race started quite slow . I took it up with Chris but I could not hold him on the final large lap.' He added:-
' I think looking back I was pleased with my 3:59.9 PB for 1500 in the Summer as well as my run here to-day"
   Becky Penty and Tish Jones battled out the women's race from the start with Penty going ahead to start with. Jones (27) had only taken up club running in the last year and was credited with a 78.19 half-marathon. She was with Penty as they entered the last large lap but then went away to win well but with Kate Meredith third and Esther Evans fifth meant Highgate were winners of the team race. Tish Jones also said " I suppose my 78.19 at Reading was special and I won a race in the Royal Parks event in 2011 and  there was tremendous  media attention for that. A great media stunt and you were treated like a VIP which was unusual.. I do love training and will do more, as I really love cross-country and with my partner we did some fell running which is also enjoyable like cross-country, less taxing on the heel strike. I may do the marathon one day but I must say the cross-country is exciting so, as I have not done a lot of training so far so I  hope to go as far as I can in the sport"
   Undoubtedly one of the most impressive results of the day was when Bradley Goater of Windsor Slough & Eton, who ran 14.25 for 5k last year as a 17 year old. He, won the Under 20 race by over two minutes. He had paid for month he spent in Kenya recently which shows real keenness in his gap year!. Besides local races he hopes to aim for the World Trials at Crofton Park, Birmingham in March 2013.
   Perhaps the most competitive race of the day was the Under 17 men's race where a group of a dozen disputed the lead till the last half mile or so.The winner eventually was Jamie Finnigan from 800 specialist Jivendra Singh.
   "This was my best race definitely,as I beat a lot of good people who usually beat me but were behind me." said Finnegan and added " I have been in the English Schools' a few times but hope to  improve on my last result of 8th in the steeplechase Final next time."
   There were two other noteworthy wins. Westminster School girl, Mary Alice Davison, who at 16 beat all the 'Under 17's and 20's, which was the only race of the day with two ages combined. She went ahead in the first straight of the second lap." I am looking forward to the Knole Run this weekend coming.'
   She went on ' I suppose one of my best results was winning the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Champs on 17th of November last year. Hannah Viner of Highgate Harriers came through for second on the last lap despite a fall just before the finish.
The other performance of note was when Canadian, Georgia Fear, who led the Under 15's all the way. She is a bit of an exception because she does hardly any training and did ice (dance) skating the day before the Middlesex and the day after. She has been second in her category, at Sheffield in a British Ice Skating Championship.
   In the Under 15 Boys race Highgate Harriers won the team event but Mukhtar Farah of Ealing Southall and Middlesex won the race in 15.33. He went into the lead after a mile. He is 14 and goes to Northolt High
He came from Somalia to the UK when he was only one year old.
In his previous race the ATW Met league he hurt his leg going up the steep hill in Alexander Palace and dropped to tenth. In the very early stages of the 4000m race at the Scrubs Terry Fawden of Highgate led and Patrick Goffey took over for a while but it ended up with Farah winning with Youcef Harzi of Enfield & Haringey 2nd in 15.37 and Patrick Goffey of St Marys third in 15.37.
   Regarding the Middlesex Championships:- The Middlesex President this year is Pete Browne (1971 800m AAA's outdoor Champion & 1975 AAA's indoor outdoor Champion) a 1.46- 800m runner, ex-international and also many times a Middlesex track Champion.He was officiating at the awards ceremony afterwards at the TVH Clubhouse. His wife Jeanne Browne, ran for Highgate Harriers and was a National Veteran Sprint Champion
The man who presented the awards was TVH's Ken Norris (1956 AAA's 6 mile and National cross country Champion) who won the Middlesex ccc many times and was an Olympic runner in 1956 and successful international cross and road runner in his time. Recently in November Mike Barratt of Ealing, Southall and Middlesex died at the age of 80. He was often second to Ken in the Middlesex Cross Country Championships but he represented Middlesex for 21 years consecutively which was amazing!.

Alastair Aitken

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